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ENEMIES by Maxim Gorky
TATIANA, an actress now married to YAKOV BARDIN, talks of her despair.
This place is oppressive. Everything's crumbling, it makes my head spin in the strangest way. One has to tell lies, and I don't like doing that. But I've just told a lie - I said I'd talk to Nadya about hiding something - she'd have agreed, too. But I've no right to start her on that road. Those people do sometimes take liberties. It's all so strange. Not long ago life was so clear and simple, one could see what one wanted. I did once think that on the stage my feet were planted in solid ground… That I might grow tall… (Emphatically, with distress.) But now it's all so painful - I feel uncomfortable up there in front of those people, with their cold eyes saying, 'Oh, we know all that, it's old, it's boring!' I feel weak and defenceless in front of them, I can't capture them, I can't excite them… I long to tremble in front of them with fear, with joy, to speak words full of fire and passion and anger, words that cut like knives, that burn like torches… I want to throw armfuls of words, throw them bounteously, abundantly, terrifyingly… So that people are set alight by them and shout aloud, and turn to flee from them… And then I'll stop them. Toss them different words. Words beautiful as flowers. Words full of hope and joy, and love. And they'll all be weeping, and I'll weep too… wonderful tears. They applaud. Smother me with flowers. Bear me up on their shoulders. For a moment - I hold sway over them all… Life is there, in that one moment, all of life, in a single moment. Everything that's best is always in a single moment. How I long for people to be different - more responsive, less careful - and for life to be different, not all hustle and bustle, a life in which art is needed, always, by everybody, all the time! So I could stop feeling … totally superfluous…
THE CENCI by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Based on the lives of a notorious Roman family, this tragedy deals with the incestuous passion of COUNT FRANCESCO CENCI for his daughter, BEATRICE. Here she talks to her former beloved, ORSINO, who has taken holy orders but who has once again been importuning her with love.
Pervert not truth,
Orsino. You remember where we held
That conversation; - nay, we see the spot
Even from this cypress; - two long years are past
Since, on an April midnight, underneath
The moonlight ruins of mount Palatine,
I did confess to you my secret mind.
As I have said, speak to me not of love;
Had you a dispensation I have not;
Nor will I leave this home of misery
Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle lady
To whom I owe life, and these virtuous thoughts,
Must suffer what I still have strength to share.
Alas, Orsino! All the love that once
I felt for you, is turned to bitter pain.
Ours was a youthful contract, which you first
Broke, by assuming vows no Pope will loose.
And thus I love you still, but holily,
Even as a sister or a spirit might;
And so I swear a cold fidelity.
And it is well perhaps we shall not marry.
You have a sly, equivocating vein
That suits me not. - Ah, wretched that I am!
Where shall I turn? Even now you look on me
As you were not my friend, and as if you
Discovered that I thought so, with false smiles
Making my true suspicion seem your wrong.
Ah, no! forgive me; sorrow makes me seem
Sterner than else my nature might have been;
I have a weight of melancholy thoughts,
And they forbode - but what can they forbode
Worse than I now endure?
(Aside.) Weak and deserted creature that I am,
Here I stand bickering with my only friend!
HUSH by April De Angelis
When Jo drowned a year ago she left the house by the sea to her 15-year-old daughter Jo, and her sister Louise. Weekends are spent there repairing the neglect, and DENISE is helping as a temporary cleaner. She is 23, has never settled, is gullible, easily influenced and follows any current trend. She is also kind, lovable and sometimes exasperating. This evening she is overdressed, hoping a man she has met will visit; in the meantime Tony, Louise's husband is on the receiving end of her reminiscing.
Time: The present.
A long pause.
Once I got really pissed. Really pissed at this party and then I got really hungry, really hungry, you know, like you do after drinking and so I devoured a bowl of peanuts. A whole bowl, to myself.
And then I vomited the lot back up. I sort of regurgitated them. The thing is, they came out whole. I must have just swallowed them down without any sort of chewing. Later someone remarked that they shot out like bullets. Ping ping. Ping.
I was a bit depressed at the time.
The reason I'd been depressed as because I'd been working at this sandwich making job. I was living with this bloke and we were making sandwiches in his flat. At first I really threw myself into it. I experimented with fillings, I bought a butter dish. We used to drive round delivering sandwiches to local businesses only quite often we never got any orders. We ate quite a lot of sandwiches on those occasions. That dealt quite a blow to my enthusiasm I can tell you. Not to mention the fact that I wasn't getting the correct balance of amino acids in my diet. And that can lead to personality disorders. Like shoplifting or slimming. Then one day we found a cockroach lying upside down in a giant size tub of margarine. It wasn't me that left the lid off. That was when the infestation started. You can never be alone with an infestation. Soon after that he left me. He walked out leaving rent arrears and twenty-seven kilos of cheddar. I lay in bed weeping for days. I don't know if what we had was love but it did provide light relief from all the buttering. That was before I became a Buddhist. I used to watch the cockroaches basking on the walls. They do say in the event of a nuclear holocaust cockroaches will survive to inherit the earth. They used to crawl around in a superior manner as if they knew they could survive intense heat and I couldn't. Cocky bastards. The thing is, I'd never go through that now. Be used like that. Because now I'm different. Transformed by experience.
Sometimes I wonder what happens. What happens to people who can't find enthusiasm for things. The way things are.
Of course there's always acupuncture.
VISITING HOUR by Richard Harris
The episodes in this play take place in a hospital. In this one, subtitled Going Home, Cheryl, a white woman, at a crisis point in her life has grown through her hospital friendship with TRICIA, who is black and a much more whole and successful woman. This is their last conversation as TRICIA is to go home a day early. Cheryl is in bed, TRICIA still in her night-wear with a smart dressing-gown. They have been discussing 'first impressions' and 'pre-judgements' of people and Cheryl has tried to explain that she had never really known a black person before, that she hadn't expected TRICIA to be the sort of person she was. She is groping for words and says 'you just…' and TRICIA finishes the sentence for her.
Time: The present.
Make assumptions. We all do. I certainly do, I'd be a liar if I said otherwise. I see Tracy in the bed opposite scratching her tattoos and moving her mouth as she reads the Sun and, yes, I make assumptions. It's whether we're prepared to break those assumptions down. At least we owe it to each other to try. (She smiles, without humour, and then frowns slightly at the memory.) Something very - strange happened the other night… the night you were in the observation ward… the entire night staff was black. In they marched, these five black nurses - including a new girl I hadn't seen before - and she came round, this new girl, sort of letting everyone get to know her, and she was trying very hard, saying how much she liked the flowers, how pretty someone's hair looked - you know, trying to make all the right noises… and somehow something went wrong. No one was responding, no one was - reaching out to her - and the other black nurses were standing back, watching her and smiling… and the more anxious she became, the more they smiled, the more satisfied they were, the more they were enjoying it, and one of them came over to me and sat on my bed and said 'you poor baby darling' and stroked my brow and I knew that in that moment - and maybe just in that moment and for no particular reason - those black nurses hated their white patients and those white women were afraid of those black women, they felt threatened by them. Next day (she shrugs, smiles.) it was like it never happened. (Slight pause.) Most of the women here are like you, they've never come into real contact with a black person and have no way of reading them… if they're being funny or ironic or friendly or natural or what… and the black person becomes offended because she's trying to communicate, and… (She trails off.) I see it all the time but I hoped that here, in hospital, the differences would somehow become blurred. But they aren't. Not really. It's just the same.
MY MOTHER SAID I NEVER SHOULD by Charlotte Keatley
The play is about four generations of women living this century in London and Manchester. In 1971, 19-year-old JACKIE had an illegitimate baby, Rosie. Her mother, Margaret and father, Ken, bring Rosie up as their own child, but when Margaret dies in 1987 Rosie finds her birth certificate. Here, Rosie has just accused JACKIE of wanting her own life more than she wanted a child.
Setting: The garden of Ken and Margaret's suburban semi, in Rayne's Park, London, early morning, just after Margaret's death.
How dare you! (Goes to hit Rosie but cannot.) You're at the centre of everything I do! (Slight pause.) Mummy treated me as though I'd simply fallen over and cut my knee - picked me up and said you'll be all right now, it won't show much. She wanted to make it all better. (Quiet.) … She was the one who wanted it kept secret … I WANTED you, Rosie. (Angry.) For the first time in my life I took care of myself - refused joints, did exercises, went to the clinic. (Pause.) 'It's a girl.' (Smiles irresistibly.) - After you'd gone I tried to lose that memory. (Pause. Effort.) Graham … your father. (Silence.) He couldn't be there the day you were born, he had to be in Liverpool. He was married. (Emphatic.) He loved me, he loved you, you must believe that! (Pause.) He said he'd leave his wife, but I knew he wouldn't; there were two young children, the youngest was only four … we'd agreed, separate lives, I wanted to bring you up. He sent money. (Pause.) I took you to Lyme Park one day, I saw them together, across the lake, he was buying them ice creams, his wife was taking a photo. I think they live in Leeds now, I saw his name in the Guardian last year, an article about his photographs … (Pause.) It was a very cold winter after you were born. There were power cuts. I couldn't keep the room warm; there were no lights in the tower blocks; I knew he had an open fire, it was trendy; so we took a bus to Didsbury, big gardens, pine kitchens, made a change from concrete. I rang the bell. (Stops.) A Punjabi man answered, said he was sorry … they'd moved. By the time we got back to Moss Side it was dark, the lift wasn't working - (Stops.) That was the night I phoned Mummy. (Difficult.) Asked her. (Pause.) I tried! I couldn't do it, Rosie. (Pause.) It doesn't matter how much you succeed afterwards, if you've failed once. (Pause.) After you'd gone … I kept waking in the night to feed you … A week … in the flat … Then I went back to art school. Sandra and Hugh thought I was inhuman. I remember the books hat came out that winter - how to succeed as a single working mother - fairytales! (Pause.) Sandra and Hugh have a family now. Quite a few of my friends do. (Pause.) I could give you everything now. Rosie? …
WOMBERANG by Sue Townsend
The scene is set in a hospital outpatients' waiting room where the afternoon gynaecological clinic is in progress. About six people are waiting to be seen. Rita, an outspoken woman has just escorted another patient to the lavatory, leaving her friend DOLLY on the front bench, talking to a woman beside her. DOLLY is a housewife and mother. At one point Rita talks about DOLLY's life and her husband: 'Dolly thinks he will come back, don't you Dolly? She thinks he'll leave his posh flat and his page-three bird to come back to his council house and three screaming kids…'
Time: The present.
(proudly). I'm her best friend… Yes, she's a case isn't she? You wouldn't have known her last year. Her husband walked all over her, got so bad she wouldn't go out of the house, kids did all the shopping, she sat by the fire watching telly all day then cleaned the house over and over when the kids were in bed. Not normal is it? Anyway, her doctor sent her to the Towers, got an order from the court, she wouldn't go voluntary, wouldn't leave the kids. But oh, you should have seen her at the end, like a wild woman she was. I had to go in and feed the kids, do the washing and all that. She sat in a chair filthy, watching the telly, didn't speak a word to nobody, then one night one of the kids burnt themselves on the stove making some toast. Reet never moved, didn't turn her head. They took the kids away that night, in care they call it. I told them I'd have them, but they said we was already overcrowded anyway. Reet goes in the Towers like a zombie and comes out like you've seen her today… Yes, she did have the electric shock, but it wasn't that, it was the therapy group. Therapy, that's where they all sit around and tell everyone in the group what they think, really think! Like say if someone's got dirty teeth, they tell them…
The SITTERS all become teeth-conscious.
… I think you should clean your teeth. Awful isn't it? Or if they've got a bogy in their nose… you tell them, you tell them all about when you were a kid. If your husband drives you mad when he's eating. Things you wouldn't normally tell nobody. Reet was quiet at first, didn't talk much, then somebody said her roots needed doing, she's not a natural blonde - but don't say anything. Well Reet went wild, called him everything from a pig to a cow. After that she's been the same as you saw her today, speaks her mind, does things instead of sitting quiet. But she's a good friend to me. F'rinstance, my baker's been fiddling me for years. You know what they do, charge you for cakes you haven't had, leave bread you haven't ordered, it soon mounts up. Reet made me tell him. She stood behind the door. I said, 'I shan't want no more bread.' He said, 'When, this week?' 'No, never,' I says and Reet shot from behind the door and says, 'And she won't be paying this week's bill neither, take it out of what you've fiddled from her over the years.' Well he never said a word, just got into his van and drove off. Oh, it was so lovely not having him call every day, but I did feel a bit sorry for him. (As RITA returns.) … I was telling this lady about you, Rita … since your therapy.
ALTERNATIVES TO EXPLORE AND CONSIDER
The role of LADY MACBETH in Macbeth
The role of DESDEMONA in Othello
The role of DORA STRANG in Equus
The role of LETTICE DOUFFET in Lettice and Lovage
The role of ELIZABETH PROCTOR in The Crucible
The role of HEDDA GABLER in Hedda Gabler
The role of RITA in Educating Rita
The role of MOTHER COURAGE in Mother Courage and her Children
The role of ANTIGONE in Antigone
The role of THE DUCHESS in The Duchess of Malfi
SOURCES FOR MONOLOGUES:
Solo Speeches For Under 12s
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-013-X
Scenes For Teenagers
Edited and adapted by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-031-8
Actresses' Audition Speeches for All Ages and Accents
By Jean Marlow
Published by A & C Black - London ISBN: 0-7136-4051-0
Classics For Teenagers
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-023-7
One On One - The Best Women's Monologues for the Nineties
Edited by Jack Temchin
Published by Applause Theatre Books ISBN: 1-55783-152-1
Solo Speeches For Men (1800 - 1914)
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-046-6
The Methuen Audition Book For Young Actors
Preface by Jane Lapotaire. Edited by Anne Harvey
Published by Methuen Drama ISBN: 0-413-66630-1
Solo Speeches For Women (1800 - 1914)
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-003-2